Hot off the Press...Ruthies Restaurant to reopen? Let's make old Aspen new Again?
Once upon a time in the late 80's and 90's Ruthies Restaurant was the hottest place in Aspen to eat and be seen between the hours of say 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm. There were two parts of the restaurant - the cafeteria and then the sit down table service overlooking Aspen town and Red Mountain. Even though I was a mere youngster eating only fruit flavored Mentos and french fries, I do remember seeing the likes of Arnold, Jack, Chris Evert. That was a moment in time. Can we make new Aspen old again? H.R.
Senator Ted Kennedy, the whole then Kennedy family. Donald Trump and Ivana. Don Johnson, "Sly" Stalone, Jack Nicholson, Melanie Griffith! We called Don Johnson, John Donson! Aspen locals including Chris Evert, Harley Baldwin, Billy Long. More names but I can't remember. It was Chalone Chardonnay and crab cakes then a "bloody run " down Ruthies. That was the routine. - George McKerrow, CEO of Ted's Montana Grill and Aspen hall of famer.
Read the article here from the Aspen Daily News today.
Options abound in the Aspen Skiing Co. proposal to replace the 43-year-old Lift 1A double chair on Aspen Mountain, including the possibility of pumping new life into the shuttered Ruthie’s restaurant, which could be a spot for nighttime activities under a new alignment.
The new lift could be a shot in the arm for activities at Ruthie’s, said Ellen Sassano, long-range planner for Pitkin County.
“This may be a foot in the door in the future to some nighttime events and more active use of the restaurant, or special events,” she said. “But if we go in that direction, it would also require more review and probably county master-plan amendments.”
Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards said it would be great to see the restaurant operating again. She said she would support nighttime operations.
“Of course we want to look at noise and other impacts, but I certainly would be open to more night use,” she said.
Lance Clarke, assistant director of community development, went before county officials Tuesday seeking comments on the new lift proposal. He said that there is a short window for the county to respond during a Forest Service comment period that ends Monday.
“We’ll be putting something together today or probably tomorrow that will go to the Forest Service,” Clarke said. “We’re here to solicit any comments that the board might have, and we can tell you some of the things that we’re going to talk about.”
With a vertical rise of 1,390 feet, the planned lift would be approximately 3,600 feet in length, according to an Oct. 27 scoping letter from Scott Fitzwilliams, supervisor for the White River National Forest.
The new lift would follow a slight alignment adjustment, topping out about 200 feet from its current location, and making it closer to Ruthie’s, which has remained closed for years due to low usage on that side of the mountain.
“The top terminus would be in roughly the same place, but it will be moved a little westerly to be close to the restaurant to better allow for pedestrian access,” Clarke said, “both for potential use of the restaurant and also for access to the [FIS World Cup alpine] race course.”
He added that the Forest Service’s “short fuse” on the proposal is due to the fact that impacts to federal land are believed to be minimal, and an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement may not be needed.
Sassano noted that the Forest Service should be notified of potential timber removal, towers being installed, or the construction of a structure at the terminus if gondolas are installed.
“Some of those improvements may require a county construction-management plan, some earth-moving permits, drainage-erosion control, and review,” she said. “Depending on the extent of the improvements, we may want to look at some minor amendments to the county mountain master plan as well.”
David Corbin, SkiCo’s vice president of planning and development, said impacts on federal land have been assessed.
“This lift would require city approval at the bottom, county approval through most of its length, and federal approval where we touch upon the federal lands, which is only about a third of an acre,” he said.
SkiCo initiated an environmental review process by sending a proposal letter to Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer on Sept. 15.
Corbin noted that this process began first, since a National Environmental Policy Act review could take a long time.
He added that the design could still shift a degree or two before all is said and done.
Richards asked about plans for the existing lift’s path and what would be done on the ground once it is moved.
“The old lift line, would you maintain that as a ski run? Improve it to be a ski run? Or allow it to kind of grow back?” she asked. “I know it’s kind of a little bit of an off-piste trail now that people occasionally take. If you pull those towers out, it may need more berming to bring it up to real through-trail status because it will be an enticement to people.”
Corbin replied that his guess is that it will be left in its current condition so people can ski it, but added that hasn’t been discussed in depth. He said any man-made structures would be taken down and made to grade so they wouldn’t become a hazard.
“Typically, we leave those old lift lines, and yes, people ski them,” Corbin said.
Richards added that she wouldn’t want 1A to feel like it’s a private lift, and “I just want to make sure that it maintains a welcoming and accessible feeling for it for the general public,” she said.
Corbin said that’s the goal.
The commissioners were in favor of the project moving forward.